This is the Blackbaud Community Best Practices blog.

Clean Up, Clean Up. Everybody, Everywhere.

If my memory serves me well, the above title is from a certain kids’ TV show that my four kids always watched. Somehow, the message of the TV moment never transferred to any of those wonderful children who are now all in their 20s. But, like many of our kids’ favorite electronic faves, I can’t get the words out of my mind. But, I can apply it to a good practice regarding Raiser’s Edge/NXT.


It’s important to keep your data clean. As I just advised a “youngster” who is beginning her career at a large nonprofit that uses RE, if your data isn’t correctly entered, your reports will not be accurate.

This ranges from proper addressee/salutations, genders, and constituent codes, to gift types, attributes, prospect ratings and more.

Let me give you an example. When I started my current job, our RE featured more than 25 different prospect status types. Some were duplicates in meaning but using different words. Others made little sense and the “owners” were no longer working at our foundations. That required a cleanup along with a discussion amongst all of our gift officers and gift processors about the reason for this change.

I think it’s essential that everyone using that aspect of RE is involved in not only the announcement about the cleanup effort, but it’s also a good practice to involve them in the discussion leading up to the change.

So, the next time you have some free time (next year???), take a moment to look at your data. Set up “clean up” queries in a “clean up” folder and get into the habit of running them regularly. Invite others to join in the fun. It’s a great way to make your fellow RE users feel a part of them team and it keeps your data sparkling clean.

(Community Manager's Note: This blog is an entry in our Summer School contest. It has not been vetted by the Raiser's Edge team for accuracy.)
Posted by Mark Guncheon on Jul 24, 2017 12:12 PM America/New_York

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Guess what song is playing in my head now?  Thanks for your suggestions to help with clean up :)
  • Posted Tue 25 Jul 2017 11:41 AM EDT
It is a never ending task - but if you leave it to long it becomes monsterous
  • Posted Wed 26 Jul 2017 11:17 AM EDT
Mark, we are in the process of a clean up, what do you include in your  "clean up" queries? Thanks!
  • Posted Mon 31 Jul 2017 12:06 PM EDT
Great question Pam!  I would also like to know what you include in your "clean up" queries.  At my org. we need to do some overhauling of RE!
Thanks :)
  • Posted Mon 31 Jul 2017 01:49 PM EDT
Amen! I have to admit, I'll sometimes see a mistake on a record and think, "what idiot entered this one?" only to look at "properties" and see that the idiot was me! 
One of the relationship types that I cleaned up was, "ask John Smith" - that's great, but John Smith had left the organization 3 years prior.
I'm a big proponent of organizing from General to specific - for example staying with the Relationship Type - why have, "son" and "daughter" and "mother" and "father" when "Child" and "Parent" will do?
Part of my periodic clean up audit queries include checking to make sure that:

gender matches title
General 2 tab on spouse is filled in (Gender, Primary addressee and Primary salutation not blank)
General 2 tab on contacts on Relationship Tab is filled in (Gender, Primary addressee and Primary salutation not blank)

Some headaches can be avoided by making certain fields mandatory and by using drop down tables for certain fields like "city", "title", and "suffix"

And yep - the song is stuck in my head now too :)
  • Posted Thu 10 Aug 2017 02:05 PM EDT
We just went to the Omatic Connector and getting data clean is becoming very apparent. Will it be perfect, probably not, but we are going to strive to get it as close as possible. Lumiante and RE do not make this easy though. It is amazing these two Blackbaud products do not work better together by now.
  • Posted Mon 09 Apr 2018 01:46 PM EDT
I work in the ON products and just stepped into managing more of our RE database.  Love the clean up!!
  • Posted Tue 10 Apr 2018 01:10 PM EDT
As others have said, this is a never-ending process... but we keep at it!
  • Posted Tue 17 Apr 2018 02:03 PM EDT
Great advice!
  • Posted Mon 23 Apr 2018 06:43 AM EDT
I think hardest is finding the time for clean up but it is necessary
  • Posted Mon 23 Apr 2018 04:35 PM EDT
I would agree, Julie. I'm guessing that most of us have little time for "maintenance" of our database though it's extremely important Plus, most corrections take time to do depending on how large your database is and how often the mistake is repeated. 
  • Posted Mon 23 Apr 2018 04:50 PM EDT
great idea. I'm interested to know what sort of cleanup queries in particular you may run.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:52 PM EDT
Here are a couple of weekly/monthly cleanup queries I use:
1. Check for new members of our giving society. These are based on total amounts donated ina  calendar year so my query pulls those who have given at or abive a certain level who do not have a current membership.
2. Mrs. and Mr. - When a spouse is added to a woman's record, the addressee and salutations automatically turn Ms. Jane Doe into Ms. and Mr. Jane Doe. This query pulls all records with an added spouse and shows the addressee and Salutations for them.
3. MIssing gender - finds records with missing genders.
4. Ratings missing - finds files with no wealth ratings. All of our active donors should have wealth ratings.
Those are just some of the clean up queries I run. 
Please share any you may run.
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 09:34 AM EDT
"Goodness, but there's so much to clean up in this database!!"  I have queries lists of these without birthdates, and these with invalid addresses, and these with no current phone number...and a board that seems too busy getting more people connected with us, with lack of information...gonna have to put my foot down and share with them a "required" information list before they're in our DB!
  • Posted Mon 07 May 2018 03:23 PM EDT
How do folks clean up the marital statuses in your RE?
How can a relationship labeled spouse in the relationships tab be upgraded to spouse on Bio 1 tab?
  • Posted Mon 07 May 2018 04:25 PM EDT
A colleague had the same recommendation for me, "set up a clean up folder with all your clean up queries." It's been super helpful for me keeping things clean-er. :)
  • Posted Tue 29 May 2018 01:35 PM EDT
We are in the midst of a migration from another database, so our timing and coming across this article was very helpful - thanks!
  • Posted Wed 30 May 2018 12:34 PM EDT
I wish we never had to clean up because we stayed clean and tidy... having 90+ admins in LO is a hassle!
  • Posted Mon 04 Jun 2018 06:15 PM EDT
I set up db maintenance queries in a separate folder and invited my db entry team to participate in the clean-up. It needs to become part of the scheduled tasks to get done. Still working on it. 
  • Posted Tue 05 Jun 2018 11:15 AM EDT
Prior to converting into RE NXT we spent countless hours cleaning up data. One of the things we made sure of, was that anyone updating the data was aware of the changes, why they were made and we created processes and procedures to ensure the data stayed as clean as possible.  We continue to work on finding the time to ensure clean data, but we haven't set up queries for clean-ups--yet.  That's a great idea!
  • Posted Wed 15 Aug 2018 08:28 AM EDT
Thanks for the encouragement!  It can never be emphasized enough how much we need to have clean data!
  • Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 04:19 PM EDT
What are your methods for cleaning up "lost" constituents?
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 12:39 AM EDT
Marilyn, what do you mean by "lost" constituents? As manager of a database used by 9 foundations, we control our constituents and where they belong with constituent codes and use security by constituent codes. 
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 07:49 AM EDT